Industrial SSD – What is the difference?

There are a myriad of Solid State Disks or SSDs available on the market from many different manufacturers.  How do we split them and how do they differ?

Putting it simply, there are 2 main markets – The consumer and the rest.  Samsung, OCZ, Crucial, Corsair and OWC are battling out for the consumer market.  This targets the home or office user where they replace their HDD with a super fast SSD.  Typically these drives will have a SATA III interface (available in the latest motherboards) for the laptop or desktop user.  These drives are designed for speed to give a Windows, Linux or Apple Operating System the best experience.

Benefits of a Consumer SSD

Boot times are reduced
Software Load times are greatly reduced
Vibration, Sound and sometimes heat, are all reduced or eliminated
MLC or TLC chips are used producing higher GB Storage volumes for less cost
Low cost – prices have consistently gone down for this area of the market

Negatives of a Consumer SSD

As they get faster, they can get hotter
They are mass produced and so the failure rate can sometimes be higher than expected (there are plenty of websites with people complaining of SSD failures)
They have often been smaller in GB than required for the cost – compared to it’s father product the HDD
They do not have UPS or power down protection
Do not have a write duration focus – so service life is lower

 

Choosing the SSD by controller

There are a number of SSD Controller chip manufacturers – Sandforce, Indilinx, Hyperstone and Novachip are the main ones.

Sandforce based SSD (Now LSI)

Sandforce SF2281 based SSD

Benefits of the Sandforce SF2281 based SSD

  • These currently offer the fastest R/W performance for an SSD
  • Ideal for Server applications that require the highest speeds

 

Negatives of the Sandforce SF2281 based SSD

  • Sandforce SF2281 suffers from a drop in performance over the lifetime of the SSD
  • Uses large power consumption which causes the drive to get very hot
  • Sandforce offer no customisation to support a particular requirement of the SSD

 

Sandforce SF1222 based SSD

Benefits of the Sandforce SF1222 based SSD

  • Sandforce SF1222 has very fast R/W and IOPS performance
  • Ideal for Server applications that require speed
  • Power consumption on the SF1222 is very good and so is ideal for large capacity SSDs
  • Can also be used for wider temperature SSDs
  • The Data can be easily and securely wiped, by wiping the data mapping table

Negatives of the Sandforce SF1222 based SSD

  • Sandforce SF1222 suffers from a drop in performance over the lifetime of the SSD
  • Sandforce offer no customisation to support a particular requirement from the SSD
  • The Sandforce SF1222 is due to go EOL (written on 3rd April 2013)

Sandforce SF1565 based SSD

Benefits of the Sandforce SF1565 based SSD

  • Sandforce SF1565 has built in power loss protection
  • Can be used in wider temperature applications
  • Built in power overload protection
  • Ideal for Enterprise or server applications

Negatives of the Sandforce SF1565 based SSD

  • Not the fastest in performance
  • Sandforce SF1565 suffers from a drop in performance over the lifetime of the SSD
  • Sandforce offer no customisation to support a particular requirement from the SSD

Hyperstone Based SSD

Benefits of the German produced Hyperstone based SSD

  • The Hyperstone Controller is a very stable and reliable
  • This gives a constant speed throughout the SSD’s lifespan
  • Hyperstone offer full custom support so manufacturers can tailor the SSD performance to your needs
  • The Hyperstone Controller uses very little power
  • Has built in power-loss protection making it ideal for military and high end industrial applications
  • Can have a secure erase function applied which writes a 0 or 1 to every cell on the disk

Negatives of the German produced Hyperstone based SSD

  • Does not offer the fastest R/W speeds in comparison to the competition
  • Does not offer the fastest IOPS in comparison to the competition

Indilinx Based SSD

Benefits of the Indilinx Barefoot based SSD

  • Provides great stability and a high quality product
  • Very low failure rates

Negatives of the Indilinx Barefoot based SSD

  • Does not support sudden power loss protection
  • Is not designed for Server Applications with heavy processing and writing
  • The Indilinx Barefoot Controller is due to go EOL soon (written on 3rd April 2013)

 

Novachips Controller based SSD

Benefits of the  NVS 3600A (Novachips) based SSD

  • Novachips Controllers are developed by fromer Indilinx employees and offer improvements over the Indilinx Barefoot Controller
  • The NVS 3600A can be used as a direct replacement of the Indilinx Barefoot
  • Good reliable and stable performance with low failure rates

Negatives of the NVS 3600A (Novachips) based SSD

  • These are new to the market so time has not allowed for the list of negatives to be completed.

Conclusion

Listed above are the main controller manufacturers, which are used by all of the SSD manufacturers.  They take the controller and design their own circuits around the controller’s parameters as set out by the controller specification.  They tweak this to give the varying Read/Write IOPS values, employ the extra functions such as power loss prevention etc.

So the important thing is to choose your drive based on your requirement.

  • Will your SSD be in an environment with a common risk of power loss (inside a mine or oil platform) ?
  • Will you SSD be recording vital data sequentially and the loss of the data is critical to your application? This is different to just running an Operating System where the only loss is a swap file and where the OS can recover lost data in the event of sudden power loss.
  • Do you need to completely wipe the data using secure and proven methods?
  • Will your application be conducting extreme writes to the SSD over sustained periods?
  • Do you need multiple years of availability to give a consistent product through the lifespan of your project?
  • Is R/W or IOPS the most important factor or do you need stability and consistency throughout the product’s life?

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss this document or need advice on which SSD is best for you.

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